REVIEW: Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP

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84 — [Rating Scale] [Stream Entire Album]

Christopher Owens obviously hasn't gotten over what was ailing him when he, alongside producer JR White, fashioned 2009's stellar Album, debut focused in its entirety on breakups and painful experiences. With songs as poignant as “Laura” and “Lust For Life,” Owens made it easy to fall in love with Girls. He tells stories that are heartbreaking, thus captivating, singing in his Buddy Holly-esque demeanor, transitioning from surf pop anthems to lonely ballads. Broken Dreams Club, the San Francisco group's latest EP, may be a continuation from where they left off, singing about heartache and failed memories, but it's less psychedelic and more rich in lyrical content. As always, Owens' marque of expression stays with you long after the record is done.

The band revisits the oldies forum here as they did on Album, and amplify the drug recourse. The full brass section on robust opener “Thee Oh So Protective One” sounds fitting for a 50s prom night dance. “Heartbreaker,” a sunny, dreamy, yet depressing guitar pop tribute to heartbreak, instantaneously arouses your empathy when Owens sings “When I told you I loved you honey, I knew it from the very start. When I told you honey, I knew that you would break my heart.” He expresses how his loneliness serves as a vindication for his drug use on few occasions. “And I just want to get high but everyone keeps me bringing me down” he sings gently on “Broken Dreams Club.” On the 'take drugs to escape reality' themed “Substance” he asks “who wants something real/we could have nothing/why not just give up/who wants to try?”

With the release of Broken Dreams Club, Owens stated: “This record is a letter of intent, it’s a snapshot of the horizon. We took the money we’ve made on tour and worked with the kind of equipment and musicians that would have been too expensive for us in the past. This isn’t Girls all grown up, but it’s certainly the next step up.” He's assuredly being honest. Album closer “Carolina” is representative of the group's maturity, bearing hints of lo-fi, Beach Boys-like cooing, and wickedly dynamic guitar solos and sounding more polished than ever before. The swiveling guitar riffs, melodic drum patterns, and Owens' awfully pained voice makes Broken Dreams Club as memorable as Album and then some; though he is revisiting the same painful themes, he's conveying them in new ways and never depriving the music of his utterly raw emotion.